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College Checklist

College Planning Checklists

Even freshman can benefit from pre-college planning. Use these checklists from ACT.org to help stay on track. Sallie Mae and CollegeAnswer.com also offer a checklist at this link.


Find out how to make the most of high school
Plan challenging high school courses
Find out why you should go to college
Become familiar with college entrance requirements
Take EXPLORE®-a set of four tests that measure academic achievement; EXPLORE results can be a benchmark before taking PLAN® and the ACT® test
Review EXPLORE results with your parents and school counselor
Start thinking about reasons for attending college
Join/continue extracurricular activities
Attend summer camp at a college to experience a college-like atmosphere
Continue/start saving for college
Research college costs
Meet with your college/career counselor at least once a year
Explore careers on the Internet by using DISCOVER®


Continue to take and plan challenging high school courses
Continue to meet with your college/career counselor at least once a year
Keep exploring careers on the Internet by using DISCOVER®
Think about what kinds of education/training different careers require
Take PLAN®, also known as the "pre-ACT"
Review PLAN results with your parents and school counselor, compare these to your EXPLORE results to measure growth
Start collecting college information
Visit colleges and talk with college students
Be ready with a list of questions to ask on your campus visit
Use this list of college characteristics to decide how to evaluate different colleges
Begin filling out the college comparison worksheet (PDF; 1 page, 64KB); for assistance with PDF files, see these tips
Continue/start saving for college
Consider your reasons for going to college and how they relate to your career interests
Join/continue extracurricular activities


Keep meeting with your college/career counselor at least once a year
Continue to take and plan challenging courses
Keep your grades up
Join an academic club
Register for the ACT. you should be academically ready to take it by spring. If not, take it early in your senior year.
Read our key information about the ACT test
Talk with your parents and high school counselor about colleges that interest you
Prepare a list of questions to ask on campus visits
Continue to visit colleges and talk with college students
List, compare, and visit colleges
Start or update an academic resume
Consider putting together a portfolio that highlights your special skills and talents
Keep filling out the college comparison worksheet (PDF; 1 page, 64KB); for assistance with PDF files, see these tips
Investigate scholarship opportunities
Volunteer for activities and clubs related to career interests
Get a part-time job, apprenticeship, or internship; or job shadow in a profession that interests you


--Sign up for the ACT (if you didn't take it as a junior, or if you aren't satisfied with your score, or if you've learned a lot since you first took it).
--Review ACT test results and retest if necessary
--Visit with your school counselor to make sure you are on track to graduate and fulfill college admission requirements
--Consider taking courses at a local university or community college
--Keep working hard all year; second semester grades can affect scholarship eligibility
--Ask for personal references from teachers, school counselors, or employers early in the year or at least two weeks before application deadlines. Follow your school's procedure for requesting recommendations.
--Visit with admissions counselors who come to your high school
--Attend a college fair
--Begin your college essay(s)
--Apply for admission at the colleges you've chosen
--Avoid common college application mistakes
--Find out if you qualify for scholarships at each college you have applied to
--Start the financial aid application process
--See your school counselor for help finding financial aid and scholarships
--If you need it, get help completing the FAFSA
--Ask your guidance office in January to send first semester transcripts to schools where you applied. In May, they will need to send final transcripts to the college you will attend.
--Visit colleges that have invited you to enroll
--Decide which college to attend, and notify the school of your decision
--Keep track of and observe deadlines for sending in all required fees and paperwork
--Notify schools you will not attend of your decision
--Continue to look for scholarship opportunities
--Keep track of important financial aid and scholarship deadlines
--Watch the mail for your Student Aid Report (SAR)”it should arrive four weeks after the FAFSA is filed
--Compare financial aid packages from different schools
--Sign and send in a promissory note if you are borrowing money
--Notify your college about any outside scholarships you received